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100                                     VEKDIC'l   ON  IXDIA
All this titillation.    Something will snap, burst, come undone/
And sotio vocc I said to my friend :
w YFheu is he going to kiss that girl ?5
"Ki*s her ?" he echoes in astonishment.
w Yes, kiss her.   When ?"
'But why not?"
"They never do/
fc What—tho^c two ? Is there anything the matter with them ?'
*Xo.   Not only those two,   Nobody.9
" Nobody kisses ?'
'Nobody, never.   Not on the Indian screen/
I took a last hasty look at the swelling chest.   It was—as the
French say about steaks—ait point. Something was about to burst.
This was pa^t endurance.   I grabbed my friend's arms and we
went in search of a fresh limejuice.
While drinking it I learnt the astonishing history of The Kiss
on the Indian Screen.   Astonishing because it is a history that
has not yet begun, to be written.
The kiss is taboo.
Only once, ten years ago, in a gipsy Mm called "Zarinah'-did
an iconoclastic director allow a male star to press his lips against
those of a female star. He did not press them very hard and he
did not press them very long, but he pressed them quite long
enough to cause a major explosion. It may not be true that large
numbers of people immediately jumped from high buildings, to
propitiate the Gods, but it is true that there were angry scenes
in the theatres, meetings of protest all over the country, an,d aa
almost unanimous outcry from the critic*.
* Disgusting Western degradation!   Keep the  Indian  screen
clean !'   So ran the headlines.
'ZarinalT was India's first film kiss—and her last.
Which is another reason why Indian films continue to mark time.1
1 The Abbe Dubois, 'writing at the end of the eighteenth century, is as up to date
as ever even if we apply his remarks to the movies. * What we call love-making is
utterly unknown among the Hindus,' he writes. 'Although they see no harm in the
most outrageous and licentious excesses, there is no country in the world where
greater attention is paid to outward propriety. The playful sallies, jokes, and com-
pliments in which our youths are so profuse would be looked upon as insults by any
.Hindu lady, even the least chaste, that is, if they were offered her in public? "